KILAUEA — The future of Lepeuli Beach is a concern to Kilauea residents as the county plans to improve roads, parking and trail access to the remote North Shore spot also known as Larsen’s Beach.
Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr. said the county has a responsibility to improve and manage adequate access to beach areas under its jurisdiction. With the investments already made to obtain both an access lot and easement in cooperation with private landowners, he said Lepeuli Beach in Kilauea is a model opportunity.
“The state, county and the private landowner have to work hand in hand,” Carvalho said during a presentation this week at the Kilauea Neighborhood Center that attracted about 70 people. The discussion raised points regarding the natural beauty of the location, a possible ancient trail system, fencing and safety concerns.
Deputy County Attorney Ian Jung said the work began back in 1979 when Waioli Corporation, at the county’s request, subdivided a portion of its land to allow the county to improve public access to Lepeuli Beach. Carvalo met with Waioli Corporation to consider allowing an additional trail for public access and the easement was granted in 2009. It was in response to the lingering issue that the area may be part of the alaloa historical trail.
The county then acquired a narrow 3.6-acre lot for a parking area at the road’s end that connects to 1979 and 2009 trails for public access to the beach, Jung said. The trail runs another 250 feet to the eastern edge and is already in use by anglers and limu pickers.
The county wants to build a four-foot high fence along the access line and maintain the trail system. State permits would be required for Department of Public Works construction of the fencing.
Another resident said the current trails are not safe and dangerous when wet. The county would be better off buying the land outright than waiting for the state, he said.
Other comments were that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and other Native Hawaiian Groups should be involved in this process.
Some residents said the beach is better kept secluded and difficult to access for the sake of nesting endangered turtles, birds and monk seals. Others said the beach has dangerous swimming conditions and especially during the North Shore winters, and that it is not wise for the county to encourage more public use in a place where there are no lifeguards.
Those in favor of a county maintained access said the seclusion only served to allow more illegal campers, nudists and partiers who leave trash and drug paraphernalia for others to clean up.
The county would install an entry gate to keep motorized vehicles out, Jung said. Lepeuli would have an access but is considered a county beach park. As for the best use of the beach, he said the county is not acting to make Lepeuli a heavily used beach, but rather, to improve accessibility to the places people do visit.
The county is working on an agreement with the Department of Public Safety, to allow for inmates at Kauai Community Correctional Center to perform maintenance work to the path and vegetation areas of Lepeuli.